Family Travel 2012

Nichole Livengood



Animal Adventure: An avian education at the Center for Birds of Prey

Posted 11/19/2012 10:56:00 AM

If you’re looking for an educational outing for your family, look no further than the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw near Charleston. The 152-acre avian conservation center is home about 50 species from all over the world and is a great place to get up close with these animals in a natural setting. We stopped into the center to meet some of the birds including bald eagles, turkey vultures, red tailed hawks, falcons and owls and to see them in action during the flight demonstration.

The education center is a great resource for learning about these creatures. The center also has a clinic, which has been operating here since 1991 and sees more than 500 injured or abandoned birds each year. Much of the staff is made of volunteers. Between 40 and 60 percent of the birds are able to be released back into the wild, but some cannot return to their natural habitat because of a severe injury or too much contact with humans.

Fun fact: Have you ever thrown an apple core or banana peel out of the car window? Did you know that is bad for birds of prey? Mice and other small animals are drawn to litter along the road and when birds of prey swoop in to grab these critters for a meal, they are often hit by cars. Staff at the Center for Birds of Prey say that disposing of your litter properly can save a bird’s life.

One of the coolest stops on the tour was the Birds of Prey Café, where staff and even Department of Transportation crews dump road kill to give vultures and other birds of prey a safe place to feed away from the danger of cars.

“It’s just an ecofriendly way of disposing of waste,” says Jenny Tyrell, our tour guide and one of the park educators. We also saw broad winged hawks, tawny eagles, Mississippi kites and a fish crow on our tour. The guide was incredibly knowledgeable about all of the birds and spent time telling each of the birds’ stories. We even got to see a bald eagle feed, which she says was quite rare. During the flight demonstration we watched a vulture, a falcon, an owl and a kite flying across the field and learned about their unique flight and particular hunting techniques. Staff walked around with each of the birds for an up close encounter.

If you’re looking for the perfect educational entertainment, this should be a must on your list. Guided tours are offered year-round on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and last about an hour. Your ticket purchase includes flight demonstrations and all-day access to the grounds. Flight demonstrations are offered on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Insider Notes: Take bug spray! The lowcountry mosquitos can be a problem at the center, so come prepared. Also, make lunch plans at the Sewee Restaurant across U.S. 17 from Sewee Road. It is family friendly and offers up traditional lowcountry, home-cooked fare.

Click here for more information about the Center for Birds of Prey.